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ICANN Releases Request for Proposals for Sponsored Top Level Domain Names

ICANN is inviting applications from all parties wishing to apply for new sTLDs. Interested parties can view the Request for Proposals (RFP) on ICANN's website.

Marina del Rey, California USA (15 December 2003): ICANN today announced commencement of the application period for new sponsored top level domains (sTLDs).

ICANN is inviting applications from all parties wishing to apply for new sTLDs. Interested parties can view the Request for Proposals (RFP) on ICANN's website.

The RFP outlines the first step in the process for selection and implementation of new sTLDs. The RFP is the response to the resolution on new sTLD as directed by the ICANN Board, and it is an expedited round to ensure that new sTLDs will be available in 2004. The RFP is the initial part of the broad strategic initiative to enable new generic top level domains (gTLDs), as announced at the ICANN meeting in Tunisia.

Applicants will find that the RFP is divided into six parts. The first part provides applicants with explanatory notes on the process as well as an indication of the type of information requested by ICANN. The remaining parts constitute the application itself. The application must be directly submitted using the forms provided online.

After the application period closes, an independent evaluation team will evaluate the applications against specified selection criteria. Once the evaluation team has made their recommendation, ICANN staff will enter into contract negotiations with recommended applicants.

A timeline for the activities involved in the application period is provided in the RFP. The application deadline is March 16, 2004 at 23.59 UTC.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."